FIFA bans Haiti FA chief for life for sexual abuse

Haitian Football Federation president Yves Jean-Bart has been banned from the sport for life on Friday following reports of systematic sexual abuse of female players.

The FIFA ethics committee found Jean-Bart guilty of "having abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors" from 2014 until 2020.

He was also fined one million CHF ($1.1m).

Jean-Bart has denied the allegations, which involve national team players. The accusations were first revealed by the Guardian in April.

An appeal will be filed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, a spokesman for Jean-Bart said in a statement.

"FIFA's decision is a travesty of justice and purely political move to avoid further controversy and bad press following a series of high-profile scandals," spokesman Evan Nierman said.

The abuse is alleged to have happened at the country's national training centre at Croix-des-Bouquets, which FIFA helped fund. It was known as "The Ranch."

Technical director Wilner Etienne, national center girls' supervisor Nela Joseph and assistant coach Yvette Félix have also been suspended while FIFA investigators gather evidence.

Federation officials are accused of being "principals, accomplices or instigators" in the systematic abuse, FIFA said on Friday.

Nierman said that Jean-Bart had been "investigated and cleared" by the judicial system in Haiti and that FIFA didn't do a proper job of reviewing the evidence.

"FIFA failed to review actual evidence which is why Dr. Jean-Bart expects to be fully exonerated and reinstated after appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport," Nierman added.

Since the allegations were revealed, FIFA has pledged to work on safeguarding players in an agreement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

International players' union FIFPro said in a statement that it "welcomed" the decision.

"This decision is testament to the strength and bravery of the players who risked so much to protect future generations of girls and boys, defending their dignity and their right to play football free from abuse," FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with them, and all players who fight for justice. The footballing world owes these men and women a great debt and one which we must repay not only by seeing justice done in Haiti, but also by ensuring systemic change at the highest level.

"The lifetime ban of Jean-Bart can only be the start. We will continue to support FIFA's investigations to ensure all those who abused their positions in Haiti are held to account. And, more broadly, we will continue to work with players to defend their rights and their dignity."